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Homeowners, county play blame game over fish kill at Venice lake

7:41 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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Venice, Florida -- A Venice neighborhood is dealing with smelly mess in their backyard at a lake off of Ginger Road.

Faun Lake in Venice attracts families like Gavin Hornberger and his friends. But on Sunday, Gavin and his friends were stunned with what they found.

"I saw a whole bunch of dead fish and then I saw a whole bunch of birds trying to eat the fish," he says.

Instead of playing, Gavin and some of his neighbors have been scooping up more dead fish bass and tilapia. And it's not just the fish, residents say, dozens of turtles have disappeared too.

"We miss seeing all the fish, going fishing, seeing the turtles and feeding them," Gavin says.

Lisa Horberger, Gavin's mother, says she's lived in the neighborhood for 15 years and this fish kill is a first. She posted the problem on the Venice Scoop Facebook page generating dozens of comments.

Neighbors blame Sarasota County.

"They sprayed around the pond. There's dead grass around the pond so I'm assuming they sprayed some kind of weed killer or pesticides to kill something. I think the chemicals got into the water," explains Lisa.

County officials say on Jan. 5 environmental services workers sprayed a contact herbicide for weeds on one side of the storm water pond. County workers conducted water quality tests Tuesday and results show a high level of oxygen in the water due to an algae bloom.

"Some fish can't deal with the short-term impact of drastic rise in oxygen levels in the water. So, the bottom line is the cause an algae bloom. It's nothing the county sprayed into the water," says Curt Preisser, spokesperson for Sarasota County Government.

County officials say what's happening is nature at work.

"They'll be no harm to the birds. It should not be a problem for wildlife and it will replenish naturally," Preisser says.

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